Today’s last-minute announcement by the Prime Minister that an inquiry will be held into religious freedom, only to report next year after the Marriage Act has changed, is a betrayal of the nearly 5 million Australians who voted against gay marriage.
Once again, the Turnbull Government has failed to consult relevant stakeholders. It is hard to view this inquiry as anything other than a thought-bubble, designed to solve a political problem for the Prime Minister.
Religious freedoms were central in the debate that occurred throughout the plebiscite campaign. Nearly 5 million Australians voted against changing the Marriage Act. They did so out of a concern for their freedoms.
Now the Prime Minister has said those freedoms need to wait.
This is not good enough, especially when the Prime Minister himself told the Australian people during the campaign that they should not be concerned, because any bill to change the Marriage Act would include strong protections for religious freedoms.
Treasurer Scott Morrison is right. This inquiry should not stand in the way of amendments protecting religious freedom being debated and supported by the parliament at the same time as the Marriage Act is amended.